environmental politics

Investigating in Alberta


Continental no. 9 oil well at Woodbend, Alberta. Photo Credit: Provincial Archive of Alberta.

This week we present a single interview between Terra Informer Sofia Osborne and Sharon Riley. Riley is an investigative journalist covering energy and the environment in Alberta for The Narwhal, an independent online magazine that reports on the basis that climate change is a real and happening issue.

Read Riley’s story on delinquent oil and gas wells in Alberta here.

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Download program log here.


Talking Indigenous-led Environmental Assessment with The Firelight Group


This week on Terra Informa, we have an interview with Dr. Ginger Gibson, one of the directors and founders of the Firelight Group, an organization that works to support Indigenous peoples and governments defending their rights and their land. Terra Informer Dylan Hall spoke with Ginger about the Firelight Group and the successes they’ve seen, particularly in Indigenous-led environmental review as a route for Indigenous Nations’ to express their right to self-governance despite a colonial Canadian state. More information about the Firelight group can be found at their website: www.thefirelightgroup.com, and the report on Indigenous-led environmental review spoken of in the interview can be found here.


85 people have been arrested after protesters occupied five bridges in London, England on Saturday, November 17th in one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in UK history. The blockade was organized as part of a campaign run by Extinction Rebellion, a new group that aims to force governments to recognize and treat the threats of climate change and extinction as a crisis. Extinction Rebellion has organized various other acts of protest during the month of November, resulting in an additional 60 people being arrested for acts of civil disobedience. This Saturday was the climax of two weeks of protest, with approximately six thousand people taking part in the campaign. The group is calling for governments to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and to establish a “citizens assembly” to device an emergency plan of action. Extinction Rebellion now has offices based in central London and has eleven international events planned to take place in Canada, the United States, Germany, Australia, and France.
More information here: https://rebellion.earth/

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Photo by Forest and Kim Starr

What’s the Deal with Canada’s updated Environmental Legislation?


Photo by Ezra Jeffrey on Unsplash

You may have heard the news that last month the Canadian Federal Government overhauled a number of different pieces of legislation including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Navigable Waters Act, Fisheries Act and the National Energy Board Act. These pieces of legislation inform the way that government protects the environment so these changes are significant. What will this all mean and how will these changes affect how implementation of legislation? No need to go read the new acts! Save yourself some time and let the Executive Director of the Environmental Law Centre explain the implications of these changes.

Terra Informer, Caitlin Macnab, spoke with Jason Unger to discuss whether these changes spell out greater transparency, public participation and environmental protection. Listen on!

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Download program log here. 

Environmentally Themed Music: The Moulettes


This week Terra Informer, Charlotte Thomasson, got in touch with UK rock band The Moulettes.  Formed in 2002, the band’s latest album, Preternatural, has taken on an environmental theme. Charlotte spoke with celloist Hannah Miller about the inspiration for Preternatural, as well as coral reefs, Bjork, and inspiring the masses to take on big issues!

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Download program log here. 

Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

Exploring The Relationship Between Environmental NGO’s and Corporations

lubicon - alex janvier

Lubicon, by Alex Janvier (1988)

Can corporations contribute positively to environmental action? Do we need modern-day Robin Hood’s funneling sponsorships toward good causes—or will corporate dollars always have a corrosive effect on activism? Artist Alex Janvier and forestry activist Tzeporah Berman weigh in.

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Election Special

The federal election is in full swing and politicians are criss-crossing the country trying to win your support. But one issue that has been conspicuously absent from the campaign is the environment. This week we invite each of the parties into our studios to outline their environmental platforms. We speak to Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party; Linda Duncan, the NDP’s environment critic; and Laurie Hawn, Conservative MP for Edmonton-Centre. (The Liberals declined our offer of an interview.) Then for a broader perspective on their policies we talk to Ed Whittingham, Executive Director of the Pembina Institute. He describes what he sees as the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s platform and the key environmental issues to watch as voting day approaches.

Download this week’s show.

The Parliament Building in Ottawa. Photo by Bruce Irschick.

Smaller Parties

Terra Informa didn’t limit our interviews to the major parties. We also spoke to a number of Canada’s smaller political organizations.

Voting Resources

Strategic voting: Project Democracy, Catch 22

Vote with your heart: CBC’s Vote Compass

Vote swapping: Vote Pair, Vote Swap

Hydraulic Fracking Special

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of cracking a rock formation to enhance natural gas recovery. It has opened up huge gas reserves that would otherwise be inaccessible, but all that new energy comes at a price. The fluid that gets pumped underground includes a stew of toxic chemicals and people who live near fracking sites have complained of contaminated well water and clouds of noxious gasses settling over their properties. Today Terra Informa digs into the debate over this contentious technology.

Download this week’s show.

Flaming Tap Water

Contaminated tap water explodes into flame. Photo courtesy of Gasland.

Environmental News

In Ontario, the McGuinty Government has announced an immediate moratorium on all offshore wind power development in the province.

The Star, The Globe & Mail, Toronto Insider

Atlantis Resources Corporation has been chosen to test one of their underwater turbines in the Bay of Fundy. The device is among the world’s largest, and is able to produce a megawatt of power – enough energy for 1000 homes.

CBC ,Digby County Courier, The Chronicle Herald, Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE)

The Qubec provincial government continues to block requests for information to be made public concerning the Mercier waste lagoons, which were a site for highly toxic liquid petrochemical waste disposal in the 1960s and 70s

Montreal Gazette(1) , Montreal Gazette (2), McGill

Enbridge has offered a package worth hundreds of millions of dollars to first nations communities affected by a proposed pipeline from Alberta to the BC coast.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation

Statoil faces 19 charges in relation to breaches of environmental regulations in 2008 and 2009. The court document, filed last week, alleges that water was diverted from lakes and rivers illegally for use in in situ bitumen extraction operations

Edmonton Journal, Reuters (1), Reuters (2)

Eco Babble: Hydraulic Fracturing aka Fracking

This week’s show is all about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.  If when you hear that word, the only thing that comes to mind is Battlestar Galactica, you’re not alone.  Fortunately Andy Read and Rebecca Rooney are here to explain what it all means, with this week’s Eco Babble.

Green Screen Movie Review
This week Alex Hindle puts the documentary Gasland in the hot seat for a Green Screen Movie Review. Gasland takes a broad view of fracking and its legacy across america thus far, as recorded by young documentarian Josh Fox.  So let the review begin. Check out the trailer below.
Local Campaigns: BC Tap Water Alliance
Next up on Terra Informa is Local Campaigns, one of our reoccurring segments where we highlight under reported campaigns from communities across the country. Carrying on our theme for this week Myles Curry, talks to Will Koop of the BC tap water alliance about fracking in British Columbia.

Community Car Coops and the Real Cost of Cheap Food

Today we investigate the growing trend of community car shares. Members tell us how the systems work and why they love this increasingly popular way of getting around. Plus author and academic Michael Carolan fills us in on his new book, The Real Cost of Cheap Food, which examines the enormous environmental and social costs of the modern food industry.

Download this week’s show.

Market in Santo Tomás, Guatemala. Photo by auntjojo.

Environmental News

University of British Columbia study reveales a chronic under-reporting of fish catches from the Arctic Ocean in the period between 1950 and 2006.

Study Abstract, Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, CBC

The water flea has had its genome sequenced and published in the prestigious journal Science.  This represents the first crustacean genome to have been studied.

Study Abstract, CBC, Nature, Scientific America

Greenland wants to work with Nunavut to improve Arctic environmental protection


Environment Canada Fines Nova Scotia  Electronic Scrap Exporter

Environment Canada Release, News Wire, Recycling Today

Prairie artists oppose Oil Company Enbridge’s sponsorship of arts and music festival

Pipe-up Against Endbridge Release, Montreal Gazette, Prophagandhi News

Real Cost of Cheap Food

Michael Carolan is a sociologist who’s got some interesting things to say about how our food is made. Food certainly looks cheap at the supermarket, and the average north American pays far less for food relative to incomes than people did only a generation ago. But Michael Carolyn argues that this cheapness is a product of bad agriculture policies that are pushing the costs onto the environment, onto other countries, and onto future generations. Michael Carolyn is based at Colorado State University, and later in the year his new book will start hitting the shelves. It’s called The Real Cost of Cheap Food. Next he joins Terra Informa correspondent David Kaczan to explain its arguments.

Community Car Shares

Well, what if you could have a car whenever you wanted one, but you only had to pay for it when it was in use? What if your car could become a pickup truck when you needed to make a run to the lumber yard? And then a minivan when your friends wanted a ride to the hockey game? Well… then you’re probably a member of your local car share. With more on the growing trend, here’s Steve Andersen.

List of Canadian Car Shares
Vancouver Car Co-op
Edmonton Car Share